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Communists into Liberals: The Transformation and Demise of the Left as Precursor to the Illiberal Turn in Poland

Communists into Liberals: The Transformation and Demise of the Left as Precursor to the Illiberal Turn in Poland

Objective

Communists into Liberals: The Transformation and Demise of the Left as Precursor to the Illiberal Turn in Poland

‘Communists into Liberals’ (COMLIB) seeks a historically grounded explanation to the recent ‘illiberal turn’ in Poland by pursuing a new line of inquiry into the country’s transition from state socialism to a European liberal democracy. Rather than focusing on relatively short-term political and economic structural contingencies, the project aims to bring both historical process and agency of key protagonists to the fore as a factor precipitating the developments of the past years. In doing so, three historical processes spanning from 1968 to the mid-2000s are placed in correlation to each other: the demise of communism and transition to liberal democracy in Poland, exchanges of ideas that transcended the Cold War divide of Europe, and the political trajectory of the Polish and European Left. Within this framework, the project examines the agency of a particular group of politicians and activists from the Polish Left and investigates how their ideas and policies set the stage for the recent so-called ‘illiberal turn’ fueled by populism of the Right. In doing so, it aims to re-examine the dynamics of reform communism prior to 1989 as well as its impact on the transition afterwards highlighting two issues: the ‘social-democratisation’ of communism and the ‘neoliberalisation’ of social democracy. COMLIB’s working hypothesis is that the Polish Left’s gradual abandonment of social democratic values during the post-communist transition contributed to their demise in the mid-2000s and facilitated the ‘illiberal turn’. The project’s methodological framework adopts a collective biography approach based on oral history, archival research and qualitative analysis of written sources.
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Coordinator

EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE

Address

Via Dei Roccettini 9
50014 Fiesole

Italy

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 175 673,28

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 846018

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 October 2019

  • End date

    30 September 2021

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 175 673,28

  • EU contribution

    € 175 673,28

Coordinated by:

EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE

Italy